Cat of the Century (Mrs. Murphy Series #18)

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Overview

Mary Minor “Harry” Haristeen’s beloved, tart-tongued neighbor Aunt Tally is about to turn the big 1-0-0, and the alumnae association of Tally’s alma mater is throwing a big fund-raising bash in her honor. The plan is to celebrate Tally’s centennial and recoup some much-needed school revenue lost in the cratered economy, but when a killer blizzard bears down and a board member goes missing, it falls to Harry and her menagerie of mystery solvers to track down the truth behind what is rapidly becoming a perfect ...

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1410423190 Only 1 copy left! Clean, unmarked copy, Large Print Edition. Hardcover, with dust jacket- In excellent shape! I can send expedited rate if you chose; otherwise it ... will promptly be sent via media rate. Have any questions? Email me; I'm happy to help! Read more Show Less

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Cat of the Century (Mrs. Murphy Series #18)

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Overview

Mary Minor “Harry” Haristeen’s beloved, tart-tongued neighbor Aunt Tally is about to turn the big 1-0-0, and the alumnae association of Tally’s alma mater is throwing a big fund-raising bash in her honor. The plan is to celebrate Tally’s centennial and recoup some much-needed school revenue lost in the cratered economy, but when a killer blizzard bears down and a board member goes missing, it falls to Harry and her menagerie of mystery solvers to track down the truth behind what is rapidly becoming a perfect storm of embezzlement, political corruption, and the kind of long-smoldering enmity that can explode into murder. Does the key lie in a forty-year-old unsolved death? If so, Harry and her four-legged friends better find it or—even at a hundred years old—Aunt Tally may outlive them all.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Shady money dealings fuel Brown's solid 18th mystery featuring Mary Minor Haristeen and her cat pal, Sneaky Pie (after 2008's Santa Clawed). Aunt Talley Urquhart is looking forward to celebrating her 100th birthday at her Fulton, Mo., alma mater, real-life William Woods University, but all is not well at WWU. Stockbroker Flo Langston, class of '74, is sure her hated classmate, Mariah D'Angelo, who heads the WWU Alumnae Association, has mishandled university funds. Mariah misses Aunt Talley's party and vanishes. Then someone shoots Flo dead at home in St. Louis after Flo reveals that Mariah has been selling fake high-end watches. Taunting messages (e.g., “Catch me if you can”) begin arriving in computer in-boxes of various WWU alumnae, including Inez Carpenter, Aunt Talley's 98-year-old best friend. Faithful fans already familiar with the characters will enjoy the cozy antics, but others may struggle to pay attention until people start dying. (Apr.)
Kirkus Reviews
Aunt Tally's centennial provides more excitement than anyone bargained for when alumni-association members get up to no good. Fresh from yet another local murder (The Purrfect Murder, 2008, etc.), Mary "Harry" Minor Haristeen, small-town postmistress turned farmer, eagerly anticipates getting out of town to celebrate Aunt Tally's 100th year at the old gal's alma mater, William Woods University. Harry thinks she's leaving trouble behind but finds that the bickering among the alumni association members is the least of her concerns when Mariah D'Angelo, head of Kansas City's WWU Alumni Association, goes missing. Whatever Mariah's problems, she doesn't have to worry about her nemesis Flo Langston, head of the warring St. Louis WWU Alumni Association, because Flo has met with violent death. Soon Aunt Tally and friends receive e-mails from Mariah in a catch-me-if-you-can vein. Harry wants to look into the murder without becoming too involved, but her troupe of pets, including the ever-present cats Mrs. Murphy and Pewter, have different ideas. While they're sure this murder plot is more complicated than their humans could imagine, all they can do is hint at the clues and feign patience. In the meantime, Harry's amateur sleuthing suggests that money may be the bottom line of the mystery, a possibility that may appeal to more readers than Brown's sometimes politically charged topics. While many of the human characters seem interchangeable in their combination of down-home folksiness and tribal-elder gravitas, her animals are witty as ever.
From the Publisher
“As feline collaborators go, you couldn’t ask for better than Sneaky Pie Brown.”—The New York Times Book Review

“Reading a Mrs. Murphy mystery is like eating a potato chip. You always go back for more. . . . A deserving bestselling series.”—The Midwest Book Review
 
“[Rita Mae Brown’s] animals are as witty as ever.”—Kirkus Reviews

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781410423191
  • Publisher: Gale Cengage Learning
  • Publication date: 4/6/2010
  • Series: Mrs. Murphy Series , #18
  • Edition description: Large Print
  • Pages: 367
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Rita Mae Brown is the bestselling author of many novels, as well as the memoirs Animal Magnetism and Rita Will: Memoir of a Literary Rabble-Rouser. An Emmy-nominated screenwriter and a poet, Brown lives in Afton, Virginia.

Sneaky Pie Brown, a tiger cat born somewhere in Albemarle County, Virginia, was discovered by Rita Mae Brown at her local SPCA. They have collaborated on nineteen Mrs. Murphy mysteries: Wish You Were Here; Rest in Pieces; Murder at Monticello; Pay Dirt; Murder, She Meowed; Murder on the Prowl; Cat on the Scent; Pawing Through the Past; Claws and Effect; Catch as Cat Can; The Tail of the Tip-Off; Whisker of Evil; Cat’s Eyewitness; Sour Puss; Puss ’n Cahoots; The Purrfect Murder; Santa Clawed, Cat of the Century, and Hiss of Death—in addition to Sneaky Pie’s Cookbook for Mystery Lovers.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Alone figure walked along a shoveled- off bricklaid path. The dormant gardens glimmered with frost. The skies seemed low enough to touch. 

Aunt Tally, two weeks away from her one- hundredth birthday, called her Gordon setter, Doodles. 

 As the young dog joyfully returned to his master, Aunt Tally leaned on her silver- headed cane, the head being in the graceful shape of a hound. Apart from having to use that cane—thanks to the usual involuntary dismounts all horsewomen take—she betrayed few signs of her advanced years. Had you seen her peering at the ground as she walked along, you would have pegged her at eighty, perhaps. 

 “More snow coming.” She squinted at the sky this March 11, Wednesday. 

Doodles, who had sharper senses, replied, “Before sundown.” Aunt Tally stroked the dog’s head upon hearing the little yodel. Tightening her cashmere scarf, she continued on. 

A deep rumble alerted Doodles, who recognized the motor’s signature sound as well as the sound of the tires. Identifying a vehicle by its tire sound and motor is easy for dogs. Humans can’t do it. Doodles wagged her tail as she bounded up to the front of the house, where Marilyn “Big Mim” Sanburne, Tally’s niece, had parked her brand-new Dodge half- ton. 

The two walked to the back of the house to join Tally. 

Big Mim, teasingly called “The Queen of Crozet,” was a formidable woman. However, even Big Mim could be backed off by the small, lean Tally. 

“What are you doing out here? It’s 24°F.” 

“Checking for my crocus. A shoot here and a shoot there and I get to thinking about the redbuds.” 

Big Mim put one gloved hand on her hip. “Redbuds aren’t going to be in full flower until about April fifteenth. You know that.” 

“Of course I do. That doesn’t mean I can’t check them.” She tapped her cane on the old brick. “I’m longing for spring. By this time of the year I’ve had enough.” 

“You really will have enough if you don’t come in out of the cold. You’ll catch your death.” 

“It’s not a baseball,” the old woman replied. 

“You know what I mean,” Big Mim said, sounding tolerant. “Are you ready to go, or do you need anything from the house?” 

“Just need to put up the dog.” Aunt Tally walked to the back door, opened it, and Doodles scooted in, happy for the warmth. 

“Purse?” Big Mim raised an eyebrow. 

“My wallet’s in my coat pocket. Purses are a pain. Even if I find one that slings just right over my shoulder, sooner or later it drops down. Hard to carry a purse with a cane.” 

“Guess it is.” Big Mim walked to the passenger side of her blue truck and opened the door for Tally, who climbed in unassisted. Once out on the road, the two chattered as only two people who have known each other all their lives can. Aunt Tally had been pushing thirty when Big Mim was born. It was a day of celebration. Aunt Tally, thanks to a disastrous love affair when young, shied away from marriage but not affairs. She treated Big Mim as her own daughter, which had occasioned some arguments with Tally’s late, loved sister. A brother to Big Mim followed later, but he died on the hideous Bataan Death March. Apart from rage and grief, the result was that no Urquhart of any succeeding generation would buy a Japanese car or any product if they could help it. As with all old Virginia families, regard less of generations of marriages on both the male and female sides, they generally referred to themselves by the surname of the first European to settle on Virginia soil. In this case, the Urquharts. 

“Speech?” 

Aunt Tally, staring straight ahead, raised her voice a bit. “Oh, Mimsy, I make notes. I read them. I throw them out. I can’t bear the thought of standing up there spouting bromides and sentimental mush. I haven’t found what I want to say.” 

“That’s a first.” 

Aunt Tally ignored this, instead concentrating on an upcoming T-cross. Her farm, Rose Hill, reposed about four miles west of Harry Haristeen’s farm. They’d passed Harry’s place on the way to Crozet, reaching the intersection of a dirt road and the two- lane paved highway on which they traveled. 

“Can never drive over this without thinking about Ralston Peavey.” Aunt Tally repositioned her cane to her left side. “Never found his murderer.” 

“Someone really wanted him out of this world.” Big Mim remembered it, as well. “Fall, wasn’t it?” 

Aunt Tally nodded in affirmation. “A light frost, patchy fog.” 

“1964. The year sticks in my head because that was the first year Jim was elected mayor.” 

Jim Sanburne, her husband, remained mayor, and their daughter, Little Mim, was now vice mayor. The joke was, father and daughter came from two different political parties. Being a small town, Crozet never bothered with term limits. Jim, a good mayor, would most likely retain his office until such day as he died. 

“Jim picked up the call from Dinny Myers; wish we had him back. There was a sheriff with sense,” Aunt Tally mumbled. 

“Oh, the one we have now has sense. You just think everything was better when you were younger.” 

“ ’Twas.” Aunt Tally raised her voice. “This country is going to hell in a handbasket. Well, I’m not going off on that; it’ll ruin my day. But even you have to admit that Ralston Peavey was the best blacksmith you ever saw.” 

“He was. He was.” 

Pleased with her little victory, Aunt Tally recalled the details as they rolled over the spot. “Found Ralston right here, spread- eagled in the middle of the road, facedown. Run over one way and then backed over. To make sure he was dead, I reckon.” 

“Jim saw him before Dinny removed the corpse. Said the tire tracks were clear. They hoped to find the killer from the tire treads. Never happened, of course.” 

“Dinny and the department really did check every set of tires in the area. He couldn’t do all of Albemarle County, but he did check Crozet. Nothing. Not one thing. Some folks thought whoever did it was not from these parts. Not me. I think it was one of us.” 

Big Mim slowed for a curve. “Well, Ralston could drink. He was pretty loaded.” 

“He didn’t lie down in the middle of the road because he was drunk.” 

“His truck was by the side of the road.” Big Mim, who enjoyed driving her new truck, picked up speed. “I still think he’d been fooling around, and the husband found out and killed him.” 

“Maybe, but we all knew who was weak that way. He’d never done it before. Two kids—what, eight and ten—and he seemed to get along with them. I wonder if it wasn’t something else. Couldn’t be drugs. That hadn’t taken off yet.” 

“Can’t imagine Ralston a dealer. Although, being a blacksmith, he had the perfect job for distributing.” 

“No.” Aunt Tally shook her head. “Something else.” 

Big Mim paused. “Let’s just say not a stone was left unturned.” 

“One was, or we’d have the killer.” Tally frowned. 

“After all this time, maybe he’s dead himself.” 

“Mimsy, I’ve seen a lot. One of these days, might be 2050, the truth will wriggle out. Always does.” 

“Talk to Inez?” Big Mim mentioned Aunt Tally’s best friend, who had graduated from William Woods University—then known as William Woods College—two years behind Aunt Tally. The lovely school, located in Fulton, Missouri, had provided Aunt Tally with her first taste of life outside Virginia. 

“She’s flying in two days before, because of the alumnae board meeting.” 

 “Good. Harry’s driving.” 

Mary Minor “Harry” Haristeen was not a William Woods graduate. She had graduated from Smith College. Age forty, best described as an attractive tomboy, she now put all her attentions to farming, her true love, as she’d quit her job at the post office two years earlier. Harry would be going to the celebration at Aunt Tally’s alma mater because she loved the old lady and knew the event was not to be missed, especi ally since the salty woman would give a speech. “Be good for Harry to get away,” Aunt Tally said. 

At that moment, Harry had her hands full with a William Woods alumna, no less. 

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 79 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(33)

4 Star

(18)

3 Star

(11)

2 Star

(6)

1 Star

(11)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 80 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 29, 2010

    Who wrote this book?

    I have read most of Rita Mae Brown's books and all of the Mrs. Murphy mysteries. I have always enjoyed Ms Brown's wit and intelligence, which shone through her past books. What happened with this book? In Cat of the Century, Ms Brown has substituted political diatribe for the everyday conversations between the few regular characters that she has retained in this edition. Susan and Miranda are mentioned only in passing and most of the rest of the regulars are not even mentioned. Much of the action takes place in a little known university in the Midwest, far away from charming town of Crozet (at least her descriptions make it sound charming).

    The plot is less than inspired and seems to be more a vehicle to advance Ms Brown's political views and to introduce the world to William Woods University. Most of the mystery is tied to alumnae of this university. What could have been an interesting twist involving a decades-old killing is not even tied into the main plot and seems to be solved as an afterthought. The only humor displayed in this volume involves the interplay of the animals; the human characters are mostly lacking any humor.

    Ms Brown -- If your purpose in writing this book was to alienate your loyal readers, you have done a good job. I will not be looking for your next book. If I wanted political commentary, I would buy a book from one of the talking heads from TV. Unfortunately, I was expecting a well-crafted and witty mystery. Your loyal readers deserve better that this.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 5, 2010

    I was disappointed

    I have enjoyed many of Rita Mae Brown's books, not just the Mrs. Murphy books. I found this to have boring characters and way too much political commentary. I guess you could use political views to develop characters but these comments did not develop anything just filled in space. Please fill-in space with more mystery or more humor or just more story. I will keep following the series but please try harder.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 24, 2010

    Outside the series

    This book is outside Crozet, outside the main characters (Mrs. Murphy is barely there), outside the series story lines. I did read it all, but I didn't care for it. The author does promise to return to the series with the next book. M

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 13, 2010

    Read only if you want to be lectured on ultra conservative politics

    With each succeeding book Rita Mae Brown has become more of a soapboxer on her political views than a mystery writer. I've had enough and will not purchase any of her books again. It's not why I buy a murder mystery. If I want to read about politics I'll buy a book by someone who knows what they're talking about rather than forcing personal and biased views on unsuspecting readers. Goodbye, Rita, it was fun for a while.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 7, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Any Mrs. Murphy Anthropomorphic mystery is a special treat

    Ever since Mary Minor "Harry" Haristeen remarried her ex husband successful veterinarian Fair, she has been happier than she has been a in a long time; dating back to when he cheated on her during their first marriage. They live in Crozet, Virginia; a town where all the animals regardless of species can talk to each other except humans. Harry's cats Mrs. Murphy and Pewter, and her corgi Tee Tucker wish they could so they can warn her of danger and tell her where bodies are.

    Several residents travel to William Woods University in Fuller, Missouri to celebrate Harry's beloved sassy Aunt Tally on her hundredth birthday. There is a lot of tension between the alumnae attending; especially between Mariah D'Angelo who owns a ritzy jewelry store and stockbroker Flo Langston. Their overt animosity divides the attendees into three groups, supporters of each and those who wish they would leave.

    Things turn strange when Mariah abruptly leaves. It is learned that Flo was going to accse Mariah of selling fakes in her store. When they return to Crozet, Mariah sends threatening emails to Liz Fillmore who sided with Flo and Terri Kincaid who sells high end ceramics at her shop. When Flo is killed by a sniper and Mariah is found murdered at the University, Harry and her sleuthing menagerie investigates who the killer is and why that person did it.

    Any Mrs. Murphy Anthropomorphic mystery is a special treat as affirmed by Cat of the Century. The love between Harry and Fair shines throughout especalliy as he gives her space she needs to be herself even when she investigates. There are plenty of suspects with motives in a well constructed cozy that readers will enjoy in this one sitting read.

    Harriet Klausner

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 13, 2012

    Please!

    I'm becoming a bit dismayed by Pewter seeming to become a metaphor for Ms. Brown's apparent fat phobia. We get it already, the cat is comfortably round! But to continually hammer the message that she is also lazy, doesn't want to exercise or take care of her health, and thinks of nothing but food and eating, is getting tedious and probably not a little hurtful to your overweight readers who get enough of this sort of uneducated opinion too much already in their lives. Yes, I know it's a cat and I know she's just a character, but you soapbox everything else in your books now, and it doesn't take much to figure out what you're doing with Pewter. Might I suggest you educate yourself away from your stereotype with something like Linda Bacon's book 'Fit at Any Size'? Didn't you used to be a feminist?!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 8, 2011

    writer's personal diatribe given @ expense of characters

    one of my favorite series and although I wouldn't have missed it, I am disheartened @ the writer's lectures. Each oration brought me out of the adventure, shattering the illusion. Plus there was much less involvement of Mrs. Murphy, Pewter and Tee Tucker which was another disappointment.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 19, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    I thought this was a mystery, not a political commentary

    I normally have enjoyed the Sneaky Pie Brown series, even though they do get a bit preachy, but this one was way over the top. I agree with the reviewers that wanted more story and less political views. This book hit one note over and over and over! Additionally, the writing seemed much less engaging than usual, almost as if a moderately gifted college writer had written it and was having a problem with how to write engaging descriptions.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 26, 2012

    Lame

    While the mystery story was good, the animals thoughts and interjections did nothing to move the plot along. They were a distraction and could have been cut. I thought the ending was fairly abrupt too. Probably the subplot of Ralston's murder needed to be more developed because at the end it was really a "who cares" moment.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 18, 2010

    If nothing else is available

    What is it about long time authors who take liberties with faithful fans? Rita Mae Brown uses this book to spout endless platitudes. There is barely enough time to squeeze in a story. Sara Paretsky is another author who jumped the story telling ship to wax on about the wrongs of the world. A big yawn, even Harry doesn't have a roll.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 20, 2013

    Love animals more than most people,

    Everyone needs to read Aunt Tally's speach! They might
    learn something,

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 19, 2013

    Stormkit

    He paded in excited

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 19, 2013

    Maplejay

    ((Thrid to the last result. Three results till the last))

    •Maplejay•••

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  • Posted January 25, 2013

    Up until this book, I had pretty much devoured the rest of the s

    Up until this book, I had pretty much devoured the rest of the series. I could not get interested in this book to save my life. The characters were uninteresting and mostly mean, even the animals were being snippy little snots. I would skip great passages of stuff about the school and politics, which added nothing to the story. all of the other books, you cared about the characters and what was happening in their lives, not this one. Very disappointed and I doubt I will bother with the rest of the series.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 1, 2012

    Windwing

    "Yes. We will practice fighting soon. Its leafbare and theres most no prey"

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 7, 2013

    Firebird

    The red and black tom waited for the others to arrive.
    -Firebird

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 17, 2012

    Whitestar

    *she sighed, looking down at her paws* "I am too." *turning, she called out to her brother.* "Wavepool! If you want, you can come stay the night at Horseclan's camp." "Really? That'd be great!" *Whitestar turned to lead the way and glanced back over her shoulder.* "You coming, Velveteyes?" ~Leaving Whitestar and Wavepool

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  • Posted February 21, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Animals & Books

    This is a light read, nothing heavy. It is part of a series, but can be stand alone. If one has read the series one would be familiar with the characters & all the animals. It's just a fun read. There is nothing heavy about this book. I do like that every book while having many of the same characters, tends to bring a few more into the fold. The other think I like is each book introduces something; agriculture, animals, a way of doing something. If you haven't read the series...give yourself a gift & read it!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 7, 2012

    I liked this story

    Enjoyed the story, including the political discourse. Loved the characters, and animals are as endearing as ever.

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  • Posted February 5, 2011

    not her best

    While I agree with the others that is was a bit too political, I will keep rrading the series. No one is perfect, not me or Ms. Brown. Let us see how the next one goes hmmm?

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